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Kate’s First Royal Patronage, Alexander McQueen Spring 2012 & “The Power of Kate”

We have several tidbits to share but want to cover the Alexander McQueen runway show first.

Sarah Burton sent highly detailed looks down the catwalk; pieces had ruffles and flounces and peplums and cutout necklines, to name only some of the characteristics from today’s show at Paris Fashion Week.

Alexander McQueen

The designer explained, “This is a collection about excess – an exploration of ideals of beauty at their most extreme”.  That perspective helps one better understand the pieces, while bringing the collection closer to its original design credo. But it also explains why so few looks from next spring’s collection will work for the Duchess of Cambridge.  Kate is not a minimalist, but neither is she comfortable in the exaggerated silhouette and highly embellished garments seen today.

We had a difficult time coming up with looks that we thought Kate *might* wear if they were altered in some way(s), the three shown below are probably the best examples we could find.  These skirts could work for Kate in the right situation… in the right fabric… with the right tailoring… you see where this is going? Exactly. That is an awful lot of work when so many other styles are available.

To better explain the dichotomy of today’s styles in relationship to Kate, we share the title of the Associated Press review:

McQueen, the label behind Middleton’s wedding dress, gets kinky with bondage-inspired show

From the AP story:

PARIS-The ivory silk wedding dress that Kate Middleton chose for her date with history was Alexander McQueen, but it was hard to imagine the demure now-Duchess of Cambridge sporting the S&M-infused black teddy, the head-enveloping lace-and-leather face masks or any of the other extreme looks that came down the label’s runway on Tuesday.

This does not come as a surprise to anyone who follows fashion. As we mention above, today’s styles are much more in keeping with what many consider the McQueen look. Kate’s wedding dress was contradictory to that McQueen heritage, not the other way around.  More from the Associated Press story :

But the Duchess of Cambridge has notoriously low-key style, and trying to imagine her in anything from the spring-summer 2012 collection was absurd. After all, what would she do with her luscious locks ”not to mention her face ” in one of those lacy pantyhose head masks that topped off all the looks?

From the Women’s Wear Daily review (subscription required):

“…a lineup of exquisite clothes that, despite her protestations, had a strong fetishistic current in their curvature and hyper-focus on the waist and certainly in the elaborately wrought, sometimes menacing, masks.”

Writing off all possibility of Kate wearing something from the collection would be foolish, one need only look at previous Alexander McQueen runway shows and what Kate has actually worn to come to this conclusion.  If the Duchess is committed to stepping out in McQueen again, several looks can easily be re-imagined with higher necklines, less exaggerated peplums, etc., there’s no shortage of pieces Kate *could* wear.


We also have a few other tidbits to share, beginning with word of Kate’s first official patronage. That information was shared in this news release on the POW website.

The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry was set up in September 2009 to enable The Princes to take forward their charitable ambitions. The Duchess of Cambridge, now officially a Patron of the Foundation, shares similar charitable interests to her husband and Prince Harry and will also use her position to help those in need.

The Duchess of Cambridge formally became a Patron of the Foundation alongside her husband and Prince Harry at the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday 29th September 2011.

Our thanks to A Petite Princess for the heads-up on this news. The Telegraph ran a more in-depth story examining Kate’s future patronage role on a broader scale, saying “Duchess of Cambridge to become Queen of Arts”.  From the piece in Sunday’s paper:

The Duchess is considering supporting a number of national arts institutions, thought to include The Tate, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A.

Included in the article is a recap of Kate’s background in this area:

The Duchess, 29, has a long-held interest in the arts. During her gap year in 2001, she spent three months studying art history at the British Institute in Florence, before enrolling at the University of St Andrew’s where she met Prince William while reading a history of art degree.

To read the entire piece, click here.


Yet one more writer believes Kate has sparked another fashion trend, this one related to her wedding day wardrobe.

More from “Kate Middleton’s White Angora Bolero (Almost) Ruined My Life” in the Huffington Post.

“…the more I examined the Duchess’ look, the more I grew to love and understand the purpose of the bolero. The angora knit brought a softness and true femininity to her look.

I was faced with where to find them and had to ask myself the dreaded question, do they even exist?! Not everyone can call up Sarah Burton and the McQueen team and ask them to whip one up!

To finish the story and see if/where boleros were actually discovered, click here.


Finally today, news that will surprise no one, the exhibition showing Kate’s wedding gown and accessories wrapped up yesterday, breaking previous records.

More than 600,000 people went to the exhibit, here is more from a Fashionista story:

To put this in perspective, People reports that last year the Palace drew only 413,000 visitors, and that the previous all-time high was in 1994 with 420,000 visitors, which means that Middleton’s dress broke the record by over 180,000. And that’s nothing to sneeze at. Now that’s the power of Kate.

We’ll be back in the next day or two with another post as well as a poll. As more than a few readers pointed out, they are fun and it’s been a while since we did a little non-scientific sampling of opinions. 

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Sunday 9th of October 2011

.. The lace headpieces add sleek anonymity.. so all attention focuses on The Clothes. They also make the models' heads look ballerina-like.. lovely but spooky, at the same time. I guess I'm in the minority: I love the pale pink dress in the very first picture- with wide, suede-looking belt. I think the Princess would look exquisite in it- with, uh, no shoulder 'cut outs'!


Thursday 6th of October 2011

Thank you for another interesting update :-)

Further to the bit about Kate's first official patronage, I came across this further detail in a Simon Perry authored piece in People:

"Only last week, after Kate's visit alongside William, 29, to open a a children's cancer unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital, she joined the princes at a special reception back at St. James's Palace. There, the trio thanked those who had helped the grant-giving body through the year and met some potential new donors to the cause. And it was at the party that her formal involvement was announced. The decision had been made earlier in the day by the trustees."

I'd read somewhere last week about the private reception on Thursday evening, but when I went back to find the piece, it seemed to have been edited/removed... Anyway, after firstly wondering what Kate might have worn to this reception, my next thought was that I hope William managed to fit in an afternoon nap!! lol


Wednesday 5th of October 2011

The AP doesn't understand that the headpieces at the show are for presentation purposes. Often times, you need to have special connections in the fashion industry (ie/ you are Anna Della Russo) to access them, and usually only to borrow. Additionally, runway looks from ready-to-wear collections are usually "watered-down" before hitting stores so that they appeal to buyers more. I personally don't think the AP is the right place to look for an insightful perspective on fashion.


Wednesday 5th of October 2011

Your thoughts are spot-on, I struggled deciding whether to use the AP piece or not for precisely the reasons you outline. My challenge was in getting the post published before an evening appointment and the dearth of reviews available prior to that, I probably should have waited. Thank you for reading *and* commenting, I love the feedback!


Wednesday 5th of October 2011

She doesn't tend to wear anything I've ever found in the McQueen website - it seems that Sarah Burton probably custom-makes a lot of things for the Duchess. I might be wrong and please correct me if I am. But I've seen a lot of pieces on Kate that LOOK like newer McQueen designs, but on the website they are slightly different OR from older collections. I think the military-skirt was one exception I can think of, and I didn't care for that on Kate (the skirt with the bottons going around the lower-stomach area). The placement of the bottons was odd, to me anyway. :)


Wednesday 5th of October 2011

Her white McQueen jacket wasn't a custom piece, the one she wore for Trooping the Colour, nor was the white and navy dress she wore on Prince Edward Island in Canada. I'm not sure what other McQueen pieces she has worn besides the wedding dresses and the navy-and-white blouse and skirt outfit she wore visiting a riot-torn area.

The button placement on that McQueen skirt was intended to suggest that on the broadfall of some naval uniform trousers.


Wednesday 5th of October 2011

What designers send down the runway isn't necessarily what customers and stores end up buying. Designers generally make available much more wearable clothes than one might see in a show, sometimes modified versions of the runway looks and even different items altogether.

As an art historian, I'm glad that the Duchess is interested in supporting museums. I, too, studied art history and went on to earn a PhD in the field. Our art museums are suffering major budget problems these days. High-profile support is always welcome, though I realize that some people might find this form of patronage rather "elitist".

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